Skating rink hosts camp for deaf children

WESTMINSTER – The Rinks-Westminster ICE is gearing up for its third annual Sertoma Fantasy Ice Skating for deaf and hard-of-hearing youth, planned for August. Last year’s camp – sponsored by The Rinks, OC Deaf and Goodwill Industries – provided figure skating and hockey instruction for 16 girls and boys, ages 6 to 17.

Run by 27 volunteer coaches, sign language interpreters and other helpers, the four-day camps was held from 9 a.m. to noon, and the $40 registration fee included skating lessons, rental skates, games, snacks and a recital on the last day, compete with an awards ceremony and pizza party.

The goals of this camp are to provide an opportunity for the deaf and hard of hearing to learn to skate and interact with others, and to show that being able to hear is not a requirement to love ice skating.

Sertoma, a nonprofit organization with 20,000 members throughout North America, draws its name from “SERvice TO MAnkind.” Founded in 1912, its mission is to improve the quality of life for those impacted by hearing loss.

Sertoma’s baseball/softball camps was started 17 years ago, sponsored by the Los Angeles Angels, OC Deaf and Goodwill Industries. After volunteering at the baseball camp in 2012, I approached Maurie Thomas, president of the Downey Sertoma Club, about starting an ice skating camp. With his help and the support of the club and its members, our camp began in 2013 with 13 campers.

Last year we had four volunteers who are either deaf or hard-of-hearing, including Krisztina Fulep and Sharon Ann Dror.

Krisztina is from Hungary where she worked for 10 years as a teacher’s assistant at the Budapest School for the Deaf.

Sharon was a competitive figure skater from 1971-84. In 1976, she competed in the Pacific Coast Sectional qualifying competition against world-ranked skaters including Rosalyn Sumners, Tiffany Chin and Elaine Zayak. When Sharon heard about the camp, she was excited to be involved.

It is a joy for the volunteers to share in the skaters’ successes. During the recital, we saw a big smile on a camper’s face when he gained the confidence to skate away from the rail, then hold his hockey stick over his head in victory after shooting the puck into the net. This made all of our hard work worthwhile.

Westminster ICE now has “Sertoma Skate” during Sunday afternoon public sessions where deaf and hard-of-hearing skaters and their families get together to have fun and improve their skating skills. Several of our skaters are competing in ISI competitions. In December, they enjoyed skating together in the rink’s annual holiday show.

We will have our second ice skating camp fundraiser in March at The Rinks-Westminster ICE. Last year, more than 200 people came to support the event. All donations go toward camp expenses and scholarships. We anticipate having more campers and volunteers at our third annual ice skating camp in August.

For more information about the Sertoma Fantasy Ice Skating Camp, contact me at penny.ocsertoma@aol.com or visit ocdeaf.org/iceskatingcamp.

 

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Published: March 12, 2015 - Volume 13 - Issue 48